The world on plate: visitors to the UAE can feast on the very best of every global cuisine
UAE-January 11, 2022: When the whole world’s dishes are available in one country, when you can eat a different cuisine every day for 365 days a year, you know you’re in a global food destination. The UAE’s tens of thousands of restaurants cater to every taste and every craving, reflecting the more than 200 nationalities who now call the country home.
It is perhaps no surprise that food tourists have started to make a beeline for the UAE, exploring not just the best of Gulf cuisine – with dishes such as the hearty harees and the dessert luqaimat – but some of the best examples of food from the Arab World, the Indian subcontinent, South-East Asia and East Africa.
It means that visitors enjoying the World’s Coolest Winter in the UAE can indulge equally in five-star gourmet dining, homegrown fusion concepts and a wide array of street food. They can try Iraqi Masgouf, Jordanian Mansaf, Palestinian Musakhan, Somali Cambuulo, North Indian Biryani, Portuguese Bacalao, Ethiopian Zigni, Iranian Falooda and Russian Kapusta. They can eat over crisp white tablecloths or spread out on a blanket in one of the nation’s many parks or on its many world-class beaches.
In fact, such is the country’s reputation for world-leading cuisine, an increasing number of renowned international chefs have brought their world-leading skills to the UAE, with their restaurants becoming tourism magnets in their own right and favoured destinations for citizens and residents. Among these celebrated names are Gordon Ramsay, Nobu Matsuhisa, Giorgio Locatelli and the former White House chef in the Barack Obama administration, Ron DeSantis – and their menus will be high on every foodie’s list.
Scottish chef Gordon Ramsay has achieved worldwide fame, opening a string of restaurants around the world, including 15 in London, including Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, which has held three Michelin stars for two decades. Gordon Ramsay’s first brought his talents to the UAE with Bread Street Kitchen, a crowd-pleasing, British-accented venue in Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai. He has since added Hell’s Kitchen in Caesars Palace Dubai on Bluewaters Island. This is the second branch of this luxurious franchise following its launch in Las Vegas and is inspired by Chef Ramsay’s reality TV show. It serves his signature dishes including beef Wellington and sticky toffee pudding.
Highly acclaimed Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa opened the Dubai branch of his world-famous restaurant Nobu at Atlantis, The Palm in 2008. True to its global reputation, Chef Matsuhisa serves exquisite contemporary Japanese dishes that fuse the flavours of the Far East with international elements, including those from the Gulf. It remains the benchmark for Asian cuisine in the UAE.
For lovers of Italian cuisine, the UAE is home to one of Italy’s most famous chefs, Massimo Bottura. His restaurants have earned three Michelin stars and he has brought his unique style and palate to Dubai in the form of Torno Subito in the W Hotel on the Palm. The relaxed beachside venue is inspired by the 1960s and offers innovative Italian for lunch and dinner. Prior to his restaurant in Dubai, Bottura has gained wide international fame after opening his first restaurant, Osteria Francescana, which is widely regarded as one of the best restaurants in the world.
International chef Giorgio Locatelli has gained global fame thanks to a talent that is at home in the kitchen as it is on our television screens. He was brought up among celebrity chefs in Corgeno, Italy, and after working in restaurants in Switzerland, England and Paris, he confirmed his promise with his Olivo and Zafferano restaurants, which immediately became of the most successful Italian restaurants in London. Ronda Locatelli then opened at the iconic Atlantis Hotel on the Palm in Dubai, from which serves an array of authentic Italian dishes.
It’s not just in restaurants where the world’s best chefs are able to make their mark in the UAE. Ron DeSantis, a former chef at the White House in the US, is lending his expertise to future foods, specifically plant-based meat products that deliver both health and environmental benefits. As chief culinary officer at Hungry Planet, which is exploring opening operations in the UAE, Ron is helping to confirm the UAE’s position as a leading regional hub for food technology. This also makes the country a destination for tourists wishing to experience what food will be in the future.
So, whether it’s a foodie road-trip around the seven emirates or a celeb-spotting chase around the best of the branded venues, the UAE can help unleash all manner of culinary cravings. And there’s no better time to do it than the winter season, which is ideal for alfresco lunches and intimate, candlelit dinners.
You’ll need all that refueling, too. This is the time of year for hiking and biking, adrenaline rushes and wilderness escapes, getting off the beaten track and discovering a new favourite. So, why not add foodie adventures to the list?